Although the engines have been upgraded in the Accord, they are carrying a little more weight, so performance, while brisk, never feels startlingly fast. The entry-level engine is the 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol with 156bhp which is smooth and eager enough, offering a decent 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds while returning 39mpg. The other petrol is the 2.4-litre i-VTEC with 201bhp.
This is equally as hushed and refined, but feels more urgent and with a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds it has strong performance. However, it is only available in range-topping EX trim and it's not particularly economical either, averaging 32mpg. The excellent 2.2 i-DTEC is by far the pick of the range - indeed it's one of the best diesel engines available in any car.
It has 150bhp on tap but it's the surging in-gear pulling power that really impresses, while the engine itself is quiet and cultured. A 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds is competitive but it's the 50mpg economy that will attract most buyers. The standard six-speed manual gearshift has a slick action, although it's perhaps disappointing to see that the automatic transmission is only a five-speed gearbox (on both petrol end diesel engines) when many rivals have switched to more responsive and efficient six-speed autos.
Honda has worked hard to ensure the Accord can hold its own among driving enthusiasts who like the sharp handling characteristics of cars like the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4. Lower, wider and with a longer wheelbase than the previous Accord, it feels a more agile performer than before with improved body control, but without sacrificing comfort. Sports suspension is fitted to all but the base ES model adding even greater composure to its behaviour.
While the Accord might not delight enthusiasts in the same way as a 3-Series, it is still an enjoyable drive and among the best of the front-wheel drive alternatives. Standard stability control extends to a trailer stability function to reduce the risk of towing-related mishaps.